The estimated population of the country is 7, 50,000 and having a growth rate of 3.1% per year. Bhutanese economy is agrarian and almost 65% of the total population lives in rural areas.
Bhutanese people is 67.3 years. The overall literacy rate of the country is 63%. Bhutanese people can be generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Ngalops, the Tshanglas, and the Lhotshampas.The minority societies are the Khengpas and the Bumthaps of Central region, the Kurtoeps of Lhuentse, the Doyas of Samtse, the Monpas of Rukha towns in WangduePhodrang and the Bramis and the Brokpas of Sakteng and Merak of eastern Bhutan.
Three main ethnic groups constitute its population:
Ngalops are descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan from the 9th century and settled in the west of the country. The common dialect among the Ngalops is Dzongkha which is also the national language of the country. Ngalops are settled in the west of the country such as Thimphu, Wangdi, Paro, Punakha, and Haa. The Ngalops who have settled mostly in the six regions of western Bhutan are of Tibetan origin. Agriculture is their main livelihood. They grow maize, rice, wheat, and other grains along with a variety of vegetables. In Thimphu and Paro seasonally they grow apples as a cash crop.
Lhotshampas are the people of the south as the name translates to “ southern dwellers”. They are believed to have settled in the southern foothills in the 19th century from neighboring Nepal. The Lhotshampas are ethnic Nepali speaking groups primarily Limbu, Gurung, Brahman, Rai, and Chettri. Lhotshampas also have diversity in religion among themselves, although there could be variations in the numbers. Chhetri is and Brahmins are predominantly Hindu whereas sherpas, Lepchas, and Tamangs follow Buddhism. Other groups such as Rai, Limbu and Ghalley are predominantly following kirath dharma. Some of the cash crops grown in southern Bhutan are Cardamom, Oranges, and Areca nut.
The Tshanglas also is known as Sharchops are the indigenous people living east side of Bhutan. According to historians, they are descendants of Lord Brahma and speak “Tshanglakha”. They are occupants of Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Pema Gaytsel and Samdrup Jongkhar. They cultivate maize, rice, barley, wheat and supplementary corps, also raised domestic animals to supplement their living. The traditional weaving of fabric and high-quality silk is famous among their women, contributing immensely to Bhutan’s textile industry.
They belong to the most populous part of the country and are of Indo-Mongoloid origin. They are believed to have migrated from the nearby areas of India such as Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. They are Buddhist by religion and have a unique dialect called as “ sharchop” and is the most spoken language in the country next to Dzongkha.
The Bumthaps cultivate buckwheat, potatoes, and vegetables, they also raised yaks and sheep to harvest fabrics like wool. The Mangdeps people depends on domestic animals and side by side cultivates maize, rice, wheat, and vegetables. The khengpas are dependent on agriculture much like the Mangdeps, however, they are also known for the bamboo and cane craft.
Kurtoeps live on the east side of the nation. Especially, the region of Lhuentse until along the Kurichu river banks. Khoma women are expert weavers and are known for their skill in weaving the grandiose Kushithara.
The Brokpas are a community settled in the communities of Sakteng and Merak in the eastern region considered semi-nomadic. They count on sheep and yaks to support themselves and do not normally cultivate crops as they live at high altitude. The dialect is unique and the clothes are made out of yak’s hair or sheep wool. The community is experts in cane and bamboo crafts.
To the extreme north are the Layaps who speak “layapkha”. Like the Brokpas, they are semi-nomadic and their livelihood is dependent upon yaks and sheep. They use the products of their herd animals to barter rice, salt and other consumables with the people of WangduePhodrang and Punakha.
The Doyas is a tribal community settled in southern Bhutan are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of western and central Bhutan. Over the years they migrated and now they live in Dorokha, south-east of Bhutan. The community has their own unique dialect and style of dress.
The Monpas community settled in Rukha village of WangduePhodrang. Like Doyas, they are the early community to live in the central part of Bhutan. They have their own unique dialect but it is unfortunately slowly dying out as they are now being absorbed into the mainstream Bhutanese society.
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